New Year hangover for Man Utd
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manchester United's trip to Newcastle ended in an entertaining 2-2 stalemate.
Manchester United endured somewhat of a New Year's Day hangover after coming away from a trip to Newcastle United with only a 2-2 stalemate.
Newcastle defender David Edgar enjoyed a home debut to remember as his second-half strike earned his side a point that defied their limitations in terms of personnel.
Paul Scholes put on a midfield masterclass as his two goals looked to have put United on course for a maximum haul, but it was not to be as Edgar grabbed a leveller that looked unlikely in the second half.
Needing a resilience to come from behind after James Milner had fired Newcastle into a 33rd minute lead, Scholes showed precisely that, as he got his side level before half-time and then 30 seconds after the interval put them in the ascendancy.
His efforts were, though, ultimately to prove in vain.
If there were any heavy heads inside St James' Park then the football on show would have helped to alleviate the lingering remnants of late night excess, as both sides played a progressive and pleasing on the eye style of football.
With Newcastle shorn of several senior figures, including latest victim Nicky Butt, it was no surprise that the opening sparring saw the red United put those of a black and white persuasion on the ropes.
It was Ryan Giggs that had the first opportunity of note when he dragged his angled drive wide after Louis Saha's astute slide-rule pass dissected Newcastle's back four. Giggs then turned from predator to provider in returning the favour, only for the Frenchman to be thwarted by Shay Given's considerable presence when spreading himself.
Moments later and Scott Parker had to stretch to head over Saha's header from a corner, in an incident that proved to be the striker's last involvement before being substituted injured. It would, though, do ill-justice to Newcastle's own exertions to suggest they were permanently penned in their own half, as Kieron Dyer and Parker both forced Edwin van der Sar into action prior to Milner's stunning opener.
There seemed little danger when Milner picked up possession down Newcastle's left but after cutting inside Gary Neville he unleashed a sumptuous rocket with his favoured right foot, that gave Van der Sar not a prayer from the edge of the area.
Newcastle were buoyed but United are made of a sterner resilience from seasons past and their bid for an equaliser was incessant. Wayne Rooney stepped from the periphery to force Given into another excellent stop - this time with his feet - before Scholes took centre stage with two fine goals.
United's passing was immaculate as Scholes brought both Giggs and Fletcher into play, with his final involvement being a clever stabbed finish beyond Given after young Paul Huntington was wrong-footed by an impish dummy.
Undeterred, Newcastle swept forward but from Nobby Solano's inch-perfect delivery Antoine Sibierski somehow failed to beat Van der Sar when picked out entirely free six yards from goal.
In first-half injury time, at the other end, Saha's replacement Park Ji-sung went even closer after Rooney's purposeful run ended with the wide man scuffing his shot against the base of Newcastle's far post.
Scholes would not be so wasteful as the first attack of the second period concluded with Ronaldo holding the ball-up cleverly, to allow his team-mate to dispatch a crisp daisy cutter from the edge of the area, that went through the legs of Steven Taylor to evade an unsighted Given.
Thereafter and United looked to be in cruise control as Newcastle's forward forays petered out before they began. That is until the 72nd minute, when after picking up the ball 25-yards from goal from Milner's pass, Edgar hit an excellent angled drive that took a deflection off Scholes and beyond his goalkeeper.
United were riled but their efforts to conjure a response were thwarted by a resolute effort from their hosts. Rooney will feel he should have converted in pulling his shot wide when well placed, while Solano was well positioned to head Ronaldo's effort off the line.
United will play worse this season and win but that will provide little consolation, despite the fact a point still edges them seven points clear of Chelsea.
Newcastle v Man Utd player ratings
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|7||Shots on Target||5|
|0||Shots off Target||13|